Do you know what Earth Overshoot Day is?
Our planet produces large amounts of food, absorbs the carbon dioxide we emit into the atmosphere and provides us with the natural resources we need to stay alive and improve our lives. We need clean air and water for our survival, and currently, oil, coal, natural gas, minerals and other natural resources for satisfying our daily needs. Are we using these resources efficiently?
According to Global Footprint Network, we are using the resources of 1.7 Earths each year to support our demands of renewable natural resources. That is, we are using 70% more than the Earth can regenerate. And the day we exceed what the Earth can regenerate marks the Earth Overshoot Day. Unfortunately, this day is coming earlier every year due to the fact that our overconsumption of natural resources is gradually increasing. Earth Overshoot Day has moved from October, thirty years ago, to August 1st this year, being its earliest date since we first started to exceed what our planet can restore.
What are the consequences?
Most fears and predictions we once had regarding the results of our overconsumption have come true. The increase in demand for some commodities like palm oil and the ongoing need to produce tree-based products have caused deforestation, destroying the habitat of millions of species. The increasing number of cars driven in the world and the expansion of factory establishment have led to substantial emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, a bigger amount than the Earth can absorb, raising the temperature of the planet and causing global warming. The waste of water and the poor management of water resources are the reasons for the current water scarcity in many places in the world. Consequences may differ in their severity, but all of them have apparent effects on our lives in the near and far future. That’s what makes it a delicate topic and forces us to reconsider our consumption of natural resources.
Can we rectify the situation?
By spreading awareness about Earth Overshoot Day and by taking all the necessary steps to ensure we use our natural resources properly, of course we can! Pushing Earth Overshoot Day a few days back every year is possible if we make some significant changes to our daily lives:
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Food waste is one of the most neglected but most pressing issues nowadays. Roughly one-third of the food – approximately 1.3 billion tons – produced in the world is wasted. In the United States, for instance, food waste is estimated at between 30-40 percent of the food supply. Food waste rates will steadily start to decrease if we change some food consumption behaviors like impulse buys, poor food storage and leftover disposal.
The World Health Organization says 92 percent of the world’s population breathes air containing pollutants. Most of us are exposed to hazardous pollutants. Additionally, the ozone layer – which protects us from the harmful rays coming from the sun – is also being affected by those pollutants. But there are effective solutions that we can agree on to remedy this situation, like making good choices about transportation. We can take public transportation or drive an eco-friendly car with reduced exhaust emissions such as electrical or hybrid cars.
The burning of fossil fuels (oil, coal and natural gas) produces around 21.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year, half more than the Earth can absorb. Fossil fuels are non-renewable and unsustainable sources of energy that contribute to climate change. However, we can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide produced by using sustainable sources of energy like solar energy and wind energy.
Every Effort Counts
Our small actions, added up, can make a difference. If we delay Earth Overshoot Day for few days every year, the deficiency of natural resources will turn into sufficiency, and there will come a day when the resources of one planet will suffice. We will preserve the health of the Earth and have fewer dangers and misfortunes coming our way.